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Wednesday, 01/15/2014, 06:38 am

UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou Preview


Here we go! It’s fight week once again as we return to the south for the first time since UFC 145 in April of 2012 for another exciting night of mixed martial arts action. This time we have two fighters looking to prove their worthiness within the 185lb devision as Luck Rockhold (10-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) faces off against Costas Philippou (12-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) for the main event at UFC Fight Night 35 scheduled for this Wednesday, January 15 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. Both fighters are coming off of losses as they enter this bout in an attempt to rebuild their reputation among the best at 185. The event is going to be aired live on FOX Sports 1 after preliminary bouts streaming from the newly introduced ‘UFC Fight Pass’.

Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold was handed the most devastating loss of his career during his UFC debut back in May of 2013 by the hands of No. 1 Middleweight contender Vitor Belfort via a beautiful spinning wheel kick. The loss has left a bitter taste in his mouth for months as he anxiously awaited his next opponent. The loss to Belfort would make the second in Rockhold’s career making him a 10-2 as a professional fighter and breaking his 9 fight win streak that stretched back all the way to February of 2008.

Rockhold was set to fight Tim Boetsch at UFC 166 until a torn MCL put Rockhold on the sidelines. Now, as Rockhold is all healed up and “focused on fighting and feeling good” he is prepared to face off against Costas Philippou. However, to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Rockhold will have to be very cautious of Philippou’s hands.

Philippou’s last opponent Francis Carmont was able to stifle Costas and secure the win. A strategy that Rockhold may want to consider however, he promised that there will be much more action that Carmont delivered,

“I’m not your average jiu-jitsu guy,” Rockhold recently stated on ‘The MMA Hour‘ with Ariel Helwani. “I practice legit-su. It’s going to be hell for him if it hits the ground. Trust me, it’s not going to be a smotherfest. There’s going to be a lot of fire on his face and submissions if he tries to turn away.”

Rockhold has high hopes that his “Legit-su”, a style he developed throughout the years with the foundation that he knows how his body works on the mat, will be enough to secure the victory come Wednesday.

Costas Philippou is a heavy hitter who is looking to finish Rockhold in devastating fashion. It’s going to be interesting to see how the heavy hitting and extremely accurate Philippou will be able to handle the very well rounded Rockhold. Rockhold relies on his superior grappling skills and well rounded striking as Philippou relies on his boxing, which makes for an interesting match up stylistically.

Philippou is an extremely accurate striker at 71% and has a 73% takedown defense average according to his UFC Fighter Profile.

Philippou was on a five fight win streak before being derailed by Francis Carmont his last go around. Carmont was able to keep the “Cyprus Slugger” on his back for the majority of the fight and was able to secure the unanimous decision victory. Previous to his defeat Philippou gave one of the best performances of his career with the complete destruction of Tim Boetsch at UFC 155.

Philippou is going to have to, without a doubt, keep this fight standing to have a real chance at defeating Rockhold. Philippou has six recored knockouts in his last 12 bouts and has, to this day, never been stopped. Conditioning could also play a factor as this is Philippou’s first five round fight. And though this may not be Philippou’s first rodeo, this WILL be his first main event spot in his career, so nerves could play a part in his performance as well. With a lack luster performance in his last outing Philippou is looking for an explosive performance and hopeful finish of Rockhold to secure his place in the division’s best.

The two are on the brink of falling off the map in their respected division. A division in which a lot of action has been taking place as of late. The outcome of this fight could very well pave the road in either direction for either fighter. So, expect the best out of both of these athletes. They’re going to need it.

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